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C. Fishery problems

79. The Conference discussed the world situation and outlook with respect to fisheries in the light of the reports of the Third and Fourth Sessions of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) (1968 and 1969) as considered by the Fifty-First and Fifty-Second Sessions of the Council, The State of Food and Agriculture 2/ and a supplementary document on more recent developments.

80. The Conference re-emphasized the important contribution that could be made by the fisheries of the world to filling the protein gap, also to the avoidance of waste, the earning and saving of foreign exchange and the development of human resources. However, they could fulfill the role adequately only if countries adopted well-designed fishery policies which were in harmony with each other and aimed at the rational utilization of all the fishery resources of the seas and inland waters.

81. Expressing satisfaction at the way in which the Committee on Fisheries was fulfilling its tasks, the Conference recognized that the Committee played a decisive role in ensuring that FAO was, in accordance with the views set forth by the Conference at its Thirteenth Session (November December 1965), the leading intergovernmental body in encouraging the rational harvesting of food from the oceans and inland waters. It noted in particular that the Committee had made it possible to formulate policies and programmes that met the requirements of both developing and developed countries, had provided a global forum for the review of world fishery problems and had recommended appropriate action.

82. The Conference noted the progress made, on the initiative of COFI, in the establishment of intergovernmental fishery bodies where required. The Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF) and the Indian Ocean Fishery Commission (IOFC), both set up within the framework of FAO, had already adopted, at their first sessions held during the biennium, research programmes which were being implemented as a basis for future conservation measures. A third body established outside the framework of FAO, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), was due to meet for the first time in December 1969.

83. The Conference was informed that ICCAT might wish to enter into an agreement with FAO under Article XIII of the FAO Constitution and might also wish to obtain immediately certain services from FAO on a reimbursable basis. The Conference authorized the Director-General to respond favorably to such wishes.

84. The Conference noted that a Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Conservation of the Living Resources of the Southeast Atlantic, convened by FAO in October 1969, had adopted the text of a Convention l/providing for the establishment, outside the framework of FAO, of an International Commission for the Southeast Atlantic Fisheries (ICSEAF) The Conference agreed that FAO should maintain a close relationship with ICSEAF once it was formally established.

85. The Conference recognized the value of regional and other fishery bodies, both within and outside the framework of FAO, in facilitating international collaboration in the fullest possible rational utilization of the living resources of the sea and inland waters. It agreed that FAO should continue to provide the best possible assistance and support to such bodies in appropriate ways.

86. The Conference considered the results achieved so far in the interagency discussions on collaboration and coordination in ocean science activities. After noting the prominent part played by FAO in such discussions, the Conference agreed that FAO should collaborate closely with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and supporting agencies, recognizing FAO's mandate to provide leadership in research and development activities concerning the living resources of the sea. It welcomed the establishment of the Inter-Secretariat Committee on Scientific Programmes relating to Oceanography. Furthermore, the Conference endorsed the proposals of the Director-General for the support of IOC as outlined in document C 69/19. Some delegates, however, cautioned that FAO's contribution should be commensurate with the interests of fisheries in the activities of IOC, and that care should be exercised to avoid any undue diversion of manpower and financial resources. The Conference requested that the Committee on Fisheries be fully informed of the discussions in the Inter-Secretariat Committee on Scientific Programmes relating to Oceanography, as well as of progress made in the implementation of the long-term and expanded programme of oceanic exploration and research.

87. When discussing the problems attendant upon the development and management of fishery resources, the Conference agreed that such problems could be arranged in four groups: (i) the assessment of potential of the various stocks of fish throughout the world; (ii) the development of the present types of fisheries on those stocks which are still under-exploited; (iii) the rational management of the stocks now heavily exploited; and (iv) the development of new fisheries on the smaller sized but abundant fish and other animals such as Antarctic Krill.

88. The Conference considered that priority should be given to assessing certain exploited resources to determine the possibility of increasing yields and to provide the scientific basis for international management. While calling attention to the need for its constant review of the Indicative World Plan fisheries chapter by the Committee on Fisheries, the Conference stressed its value as basis for defining national and international fishery policies.

89. Some delegates made reference to specific stocks which had long been fished but had recently been over-exploited, mainly as a result of the introduction of modern fishing craft and gear as well as increased effort. They indicated that advantage ought to be taken of such experience to avoid the occurrence of similar situations in other areas or with respect to other stocks Other delegates reiterated that conservation problems differed from area to area and from stock to stock, and that careful examination of prevailing characteristics of the stocks and their environment was required in each particular case. The Conference endorsed in this regard the views expressed by the Committee on Fisheries at its Fourth Session and by the Council at its Fifty-Second Session to the effect that there were no universally applicable systems for management.

90. The attention of the Conference was invited to the urgent need for study and conservation of the stocks of the green turtle (Chelonia mydas mydas). The Conference requested the Director-General to consult with the countries concerned with a view to promoting any additional measures that might be required, as soon as possible since the species was in danger of extinction.

91. The Conference urged the Director-General to strengthen the work of FAO in the field of inland fisheries. Emphasis was laid upon the importance of improving existing fisheries and fostering aquaculture, which offered considerable opportunities for development in many regions of the world, especially in Africa and Asia.

92. Reference was made to a request by the Fifth FAO Regional Conference for Africa (1968) and to the views expressed by the Committee on Fisheries at its Fourth Session with regard to the need for the establishment of an intergovernmental fishery body for the inland waters of Africa.

The Conference urged the Director-General to attend to this matter at the earliest possible date, and to consider in particular the possibility of convening an ad hoc consultation of African countries to examine the steps required for the setting up of such a body.

93. The Conference reiterated its concern over the growing damage caused by pollution to inland and marine fishery resources and their environment. It recognized the responsibility of FAO for coordinating and disseminating information on marine and freshwater pollution affecting the living resources and for promoting the investigation and control of such pollution. In this respect, it endorsed the convening in 1970 of an FAO Technical Conference on Marine Pollution and its Effects on Living Resources and Fishing. It also welcomed the greater degree of cooperation achieved between FAO and other international organizations, especially through the establishment of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution. The Conference urged that attention be given to the need for preventing the use of pipelines to discharge biologically harmful matter into the sea without proper treatment, and stressed the increasing pollution problem posed by the multiple uses of the ocean.

94. The Conference emphasized the paramount importance of fishery education and training in all sectors and at all levels. Several delegates indicated that the creation of regional training and research centres, particularly in the Near East and in Southeast Asia and the strengthening of existing national centres in Africa would be of considerable value, and that FAO could play a significant part in assisting the countries concerned. While recognizing the importance of fellowships, the Conference stressed that because of their relatively short duration, they were suitable for specialization but not for broad training and that it was therefore necessary to modify their duration accordingly.

95. The Conference noted with concern the alarming waste of fishery products caused by the lack of facilities for, or inadequate methods of, preservation, storage, transport or distribution 2/. It emphasized the useful functions which FAO could fulfill in this regard, by acting as a clearing house for technical information, by promoting the application of science and technology to fish production, processing and marketing, and by providing assistance to introduce appropriate methods and equipment.

96. The Conference noted the acute shortage of the necessary capital required by many countries for fishery development. Several delegates referred to the need for more capital investment, credit, subsidies, bilateral and multilateral assistance in order to provide the necessary infrastructure, including fishing fleets, ports, processing, marketing and export facilities. They urged FAO to increase its assistance in mobilizing the financial resources needed to augment fish production and distribution and thus improve the standard of living of individual fishermen. In this connexion the Conference stressed the need for the application of economically sound principles and a commercial approach in all sectors of the fishing industry.

97. The Conference recognized that in the provision of capital for fishery development and the promotion of its various aspects, the collaboration of many groups and agencies, national and international, was essential. The Conference therefore welcomed the increased attention being given by the FAO Department of Fisheries to maintaining close contacts with such groups and urged Member Nations to assist the Department to fulfill its role as a clearing house for the exchange of information and experience in all phases of fishery development.

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